(Design & illustration by Robert Roxby)
By Dia Reeves, author of SLICE OF CHERRY
For my Halloween recommendations, I was going to wax poetic on obvious stuff like The Exorcist (it was a book first, y’all) and any number of Stephen King stories, and possibly the prison scene from Killing Floor by Lee Child (had to read it with my eyes closed), but I decided to introduce you to some scary that’s a bit more obscure. And part of what makes these obscure is that they’re short stories, which hardly anyone reads.
“Snow Cancellations” by Donald R. Burleson
I recommended this as a great winter read, but it also works as straight-up horror. I read it about twenty years ago, and I still remember every bit of it. The boy in the story wakes up on a snowy day and waits eagerly to hear the radio announcer say that his school has been canceled, but he has no idea what he’s wishing for. The snow is alive, and the radio announcer, I think, is the voice of the snow. And the snow is EVIL.
“Watch and Wake” by M.T. Anderson
This one’s fairly recent. A boy gets a job watching over a corpse. He has to stay awake all night to make sure evil spirits don’t show up and eat the corpse’s face. The story is even weirder than it sounds; but you know what I’m like—I love me some weird.
“Disturb Not My Slumbering Fair” by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
This one was written years ago too, but it’s farm fresh, even by today’s standards. It’s about a chick who’s a ghoul (and how many stories have you read about ghouls?) who goes all around town trying to work out a way to snack on dead people without getting caught. I love the chick in this story. I think she was my first exposure to a female monster who not only wasn’t an evil sex kitten, but was also the hero—even though she does absolutely nothing heroic throughout the story. LOVE!
These stories might be hard to find. “Snow Cancellations” is in Best New Horror (1990). “Watch and Wake” is in Gothic! and “Disturb Not” is in Cautionary Tales. Check your libraries for them. It’s sad that I had to go back so far to find the scary, but if you look hard enough, you can always find something. Actually if you look hard enough…something scary will find YOU. [cue Vincent Price’s Thriller laugh]
Dia Reeves is a librarian and lives in a suburb of Dallas, TX. Her family, however, grew up in East Texas and has inspired her with many tales of the area. She is the author of Bleeding Violet and Slice of Cherry.
Visit Dia at diareeves.com.
Follow @diareeves on Twitter.